Climate Resilience: How to deal with the ‘here and now’ while building long-term solutions to climate change
While there is broader consensus that climate change is real, and there is overwhelming scientific evidence that it is caused by human activity, many struggle to identify things we can do now to deal with its present ramifications.
Fundamental changes to industries such as power generation, transportation, construction, and industrial manufacturing are finally underway, but they take time and must be implemented at large scale to realize their full benefits.
In the meantime, extreme weather events are disrupting human life and putting a strain on societal infrastructure. Catastrophic incidents are becoming ever more regular and more severe — from wildfires in the west, extreme heat in Texas, water shortages in Colorado, California, Nevada, and Arizona, and more — a key question is: what are we doing to adapt? What investments are we making to cope with the impacts that climate change is already having on our lives? How are we protecting ourselves, our homes, our workplaces, and our cities from extreme heat, fires, and floods?
We need to address the root causes of climate change to stop the warming planet, while simultaneously adapting to the new realities we face as a society. Utilities are proactively implementing demand-response, even shutting down power on windy, hot days, fire departments are implementing new technology to detect and warn people of upcoming fire danger, and individuals are installing battery systems at home to cope with increasing power outages.
The real estate industry consumes nearly 40% of all energy and 70% of all electricity and has an immediate imperative to improve energy efficiency and resiliency. While there are several steps the industry can and should take, one of the most impactful is to upgrade buildings to consume less energy AND make them more resilient to rising temperatures and blackouts.
For example, data shows that swapping regular windows with smart windows reduces base building energy consumption by up to 30% and enables a simpler path to net zero. Importantly, they block heat from entering the building, reducing peak cooling load which comes from energy sources that release the most carbon, such as coal and natural gas. The windows also provide immediate tangible benefits by keeping building interiors cool and comfortable for occupants. A few recent examples from buildings that have View Smart Windows installed:
(1) On a 100°F day at Dallas Fort Worth Airport, seats near gates with View Smart Windows stayed 20°F cooler than gates with regular windows.
(2) During a power outage on a 90+°F day in New York this summer, apartments at the residential tower Sven that have View Smart Windows stayed 11°F cooler than apartments that do not.
(3) At the newly-renovated office building at 730 3rd Ave in New York, desk surfaces stayed 12°F cooler after View Smart Windows were installed.
With thermal discomfort in buildings affecting everything from elderly health to workplace productivity and student attendance, finding energy efficient ways to keep buildings cool and comfortable as the planet heats up is one of the immediate opportunities for the real estate industry to build resilience.
What are you doing to create climate resilience today?